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blog:Too much trash – part 1

Pallavi Mukerjee
Vail CO, Colorado

Trash Collection Day: In my house, we remember that it is trash day, a few minutes before the garbage truck makes it way through the neighborhood. Sometimes, we manage to remember it a few seconds after the garbage truck has passed our house. This announcement is followed by ‘collection of garbage’ from all the levels of the house at a speed which would put a cheetah to shame.

My daughter chooses that very minute to research the garbage bags to make sure none of her completely unnecessary happy meal toys, hair accessories, or a lone crayon or two, have been put in the garbage bags by mistake. If she spots a hair band or Mario in the very depths of the bag, – it needs to be retrieved pronto.

These are the days when the garbage truck passes our house and the driver cheerily waves goodbye. On other days, we race the garbage out to the curb, and the subject slips from our mind till the next garbage day…….

Thoughts on Garbage: After all, garbage isn’t something people want to think about each day. It is neither pressing like finances, or medical needs, nor enjoyable like movies, parties or music. It is something people want to put in a bag, get out of the way, and out of the mind. However, it is an important concern and the amount of trash generated per year has significant environmental consequences.

Facts and Figures: (National) – So approximately how much trash does America generate per year?? According to EPA, “in 2005, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced more than 245 million tons of MSW-(Municipal Solid Waste-another name for trash), which is approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day.” This line graph indicates how the quantity of waste has increased from the year 1960 to 2006.

(Source: EPA home page- updated on 06.01.2007)

Facts and Figures: (State) – The Colorado Department of Public Health has compiled data of solid waste that is disposed of in solid waste facilities located within the state. This can be viewed at the following website.

http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/hm/swreport/swreport.htm I have used the data to compile a line graph to show the increase in the quantity of waste from 1995-2006.

(Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment- updated by May of every calendar year).

Facts and Figures: (Closer to home):

(Source: Data from Eagle County Landfill)

Relevant Websites: There is a website called “Milestones in Garbage”- from 1990 to the Present. http://www.epa.gov/msw/timeline.htm . I found this interesting and informative and wanted to share this with my readers.

The biggest feature in controlling the amount of garbage is to reduce and recycle. Next week, we will talk about- how U.S. rates with other countries in waste generation, and the components and their percentages in the waste stream.

Ms Mukerjee is the Hazardous Waste Specialist at the Eagle County Landfill. She has a Master’s in Environmental Planning from the University of Indiana and is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager. She can be contacted at Pallavi.mukerjee@eaglecounty.us


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